How We Schedule Students into Constantly Changing Classes Bi-Weekly with Office 365 Excel
When Danville High School entered in the Districts of Innovation status a few years back, an idea was conceived to create courses that met twice a week during the last period of the day. There was a twist, though. These classes would be constantly changing to cater to the diverse needs and passions of our students. Some of these classes would be long term, and others would be one and done. This created a challenge in logistics. Scheduling students up to twice a week into these classes would mean there would need to be something in place that could handle it’s dynamic nature. I immediately looked to cloud platforms that would allow us to schedule during an advisory period in the morning for a class that would meet later that afternoon. What evolved was a system using Office 365’s online version of Excel that enabled 25 advisors to quickly place 400+ students into spots that were mostly of the student’s choice twice a week. Simultaneously and quickly. Let’s look at some of it’s features. I’m attaching a copy stripped of student information for you tinker with at the bottom of this post.
The left-most columns of the primary sheet hold all of the students and their data. Name, Grade, Advisor, etc. These columns are hidden to cut down on clutter. Once a current list of students is exported from our SIS(Infinite Campus), the list is pasted into these columns. Nothing else is needed to be done. This is exceptionally nice since school enrollment can often be in flux throughout the year.
When teachers open the link for the system, they see lists of students grouped by Advisor. These lists update automatically by finding all students of a given advisor and populating them under the advisor’s name. Next to the student’s name is a dropdown for their placement that lists all available spots. These spots pull from a list of available offerings. The beauty of this is that as a location fills up, the option disappears. A formula checks the location’s availability, compares it the maximum capacity, which can be customized to each offering, and then hides the location’s name when the max is reached.
Aside from the sheet that has the student information and the places to assign students, there are multiple tabs at the bottom. The next tab is the student locator, which simply lists each student alphabetically and their current placement which is necessary for tracking down students during this period.
Following are tabs for each location being offered. These populate with students as they get placed. Since attendance also needs to be accounted for, there is a dropdown on these tabs to mark a student absent. And yes, there’s a tab to see what students are absent from each of the placements.
While most students get to choose their placement, there are some students that had to have their assignments chosen for them. We have a freshmen self-paced course, interns, and remediation classes that needed to be set so that a student couldn’t choose anything other than one of these once pre-assigned. If you add “yes” under the “health” or “intern” columns in the student data section, the dropdown detects those and presents advisors with only the appropriate option.
We’re in the second year of using this system, and the flow looks like this. I configure the spreadsheet offline in excel. Make any changes to offerings or the student list, and upload it to One Drive. I send the link out to teachers. This link can be configured to require teachers to log into the EDU Office 365 account, or allow for anonymous editing. I tend to use the later since it cuts down on steps required to getting to what they need to do. If changes need to happen for the next day, I simply replace it in One Drive with a new copy. If you want to delve into it deeper, here’s a copy: Edge Tracker Blank.
If you decide to do something with it, I’d love to hear about it!